Land held on Trust

From the 2020-21 financial year, a higher rate of land tax and a lower land tax threshold will apply to land owned by trusts

If you hold land on trust you were required to notify RevenueSA by 31 July 2020. For land acquired after 1 July 2020, you must notify RevenueSA within one month of the trust acquiring the land.

If you do not notified RevenueSA of land held on trust, you may be charged interest and penalty tax on the additional amount of land tax that would have been assessed if you had notified.

Use the links below to navigate to more information on this page about the treatment of trusts for land tax purposes.

Please see the land held on trust – up to 2019-20 financial year page for information on the treatment of land held on trust for land tax purposes, prior to the 2020-21 financial year.

Exempt Land

Land which is eligible for an exemption or exclusion from land tax (for example, a principal place of residence, primary production) will continue to be exempt from land tax.

Land that is exempt from land tax will not be included in the taxable value of land in an assessment of a land tax liability.

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Trust land tax rates of land tax

Taxable land held in trust for a fixed, discretionary or unit trust is assessed using the trust rates of land tax.

Where the land held in trust is valued over the trust threshold (currently $25 000) and a notice of beneficial interest(s)/unitholders or a designated beneficiary is not in place, the trust land tax rates apply on the full value of the land.

The trust land tax rates include a surcharge of up to 0.5% on the general land tax rates below the top marginal threshold.

What are the land tax rates for trusts?

Total Taxable Site Value Amount of Tax
Does not exceed $25 000 Nil
Exceeds $25 000 but not $450 000 $125 + $0.50 for every $100
or part of $100 above $25 000
Exceeds $450 000 but not $723 000 $2250.00 plus $1.00 for every $100
or part of $100 above $450 000
Exceeds $723 000 but not $1 052 000 $4980.00 plus $1.75 for every $100
or part of $100 above $723 000
Exceeds $1 052 000 but not $1 350 000 $10 737.50 plus $2.40 for every $100
or part of $100 above $1 052 000
Exceeds $1 350 000 $17 899.50 plus $2.40 for every $100
or part of $100 above $1 350 000  

Are all trusts subject to the trust land tax rates?

No, some trusts are excluded from the trust land tax rates and therefore liable to the general rates of land tax instead. For some trust types you may be able to nominate the beneficiaries or unitholders of the trusts which will enable the land to be assessed at the general land tax rates.

Where this occurs, the land may also be subject to assessment in the beneficiary or unitholder’s ownership if they own other taxable land.

Which trusts are subject to the trust land tax rates?

The following trusts are subject to the trust land tax rates:

See further down on this page for more information on how these trusts are assessed (use links above to jump to relevant section).

Testamentary trusts are not considered to be administration trusts and will be subject to the trust land tax rates.

Which trusts are not liable to the trust land tax rates?

The trust land tax rates do not apply to land held by:

  • an excluded trust, such as a concessional trust, a superannuation (super fund) trust, or an administration trust for a deceased estate;
  • an implied, constructive or resulting trust;
  • public unit trust schemes, being either a listed trust or a widely held trust; or
  • a corporation that is grouped with one or more related corporations and land tax is assessed in accordance with Section 13J of the Land Tax Act 1936.

See How could having a corporation as a trustee impact land tax? for more information.

Land owned by these types of trust will be assessed at the general land tax rates, rather than trust land tax rates.

Who is assessed for land tax in relation to a trust?

When land is acquired on behalf of a trust, RevenueSA will place the land in the trustee ownership, unless we are notified that the land is held in trust.

On being notified of the trust, RevenueSA will place the land in a separate ownership and assess the land separately from other land owned by the trustees not owned for the same trust.

Trustees with land held by a discretionary, fixed or unit trust have the option to nominate beneficiaries/unitholders, which will affect how the land is assessed. See further down on this page for more information on how these will be assessed (use the links below to jump to the relevant section).

Will land owned by the trust be assessed with other land owned by the trust?

Land owned by a trustee for a trust will be combined together (or “aggregated”) with other land owned by the same trustee for the same trust. It will not be aggregated with other land owned by the same trustee that is not owned for the same trust.

Where beneficiaries/unitholders are nominated, their share of the land may also be assessed with other land that they own. See further down on this page for more information on how these may be assessed with other land that they own (use the links below to jump to the relevant section).

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NOTIFICATION OF TRUSTS

When must I notify RevenueSA that land is held in trust?

If you are a trustee you were required to notify RevenueSA by 31 July 2020 of any land that you owned on trust.

You must notify RevenueSA within one month of acquiring any land on trust.

You only need to notify RevenueSA of the trust once.

How can I request that the trust be recognised?

Please complete the land holding declaration and submit to landtaxreform@sa.gov.au along with supporting documentation.

What information is required?

You must provide evidence of the trust and that the land was purchased on behalf of the trust.

Evidence of the trust

For each Trust the following must be provided:

  • a copy of the original executed Deed of Trust in its entirety; and
  • a copy of each Deed of Variation, where there have been variations or amendments made to the original Deed of Trust since its execution.

Evidence of purchase

You must also provide supporting documentation to evidence that the trust relationship for each parcel of land. The supporting documentation you must provide include:

  • a copy of the Memorandum of Transfer showing that consideration was paid by the trust or on behalf of the trust; or
  • a copy of the most recently completed and lodged Tax Return for the trust, clearly showing the land as an asset of the trust.

If one of the above documents is not available or does not evidence that the land is held on behalf of the trust, you will need to provide a minimum of 2 other types of evidence. This can include a copy of the:

  • Memorandum of Transfer for the purchase of the land, showing “with no survivorship” or “WNS”
  • Title showing “with no survivorship” or “WNS”
  • signed Minutes of Trust Meeting (or similar), evidencing/discussing the purchase of the land on behalf of the trust
  • Balance Sheet of the Trust, showing the parcel of land as an asset of the trust
  • Settlement Statement for the purchase of the trust, showing the purchaser (you) as a trustee of the trust
  • signed Contract of Sale for the purchase of the land, showing the purchaser (you) as trustee of the trust

Important: Evidence must:

  • be provided for each parcel of land that is held on Trust; and
  • clearly state the Trust name and either the property address or Certificate of Title reference.

Nomination of beneficiaries/unitholders

  • Discretionary trusts: a completed Statutory Declaration by the nominated beneficiary is required.
  • Fixed/unit trust: no additional evidence is required.

Do I need to notify RevenueSA when circumstances change?

Trustees must notify RevenueSA within one month when any of the following occur:

  • they become a trustee of land, or of additional land (if already a trustee);
  • they dispose of any land in the trust if the legal ownership of the land stays the same after the disposal;
  • anything that results in the trust changing category, e.g. a discretionary trust becomes a fixed trust or a unit trust scheme becomes a public unit trust scheme;
  • the beneficial interest(s) of a fixed trust, or unit holdings of a unit trust, changes where the relevant notice is in force;
  • where a corporation that is the trustee of a fixed trust or a unit trust scheme becomes, or other related corporations between them become, the owner of more than 50% of the total beneficial interests in land in trust (for a fixed trust) or more than 50% of the total number of units held by the unitholders in the scheme (for a unit trust).

    The trustee must also notify Revenue SA where related corporations between them acquire more than 50% of the beneficial interests/units in the trust.

    See How could having a corporation as a trustee impact land tax? for more information.
  • the administration of a deceased estate that includes land in South Australia is completed;
  • Probate is granted or letters of administration are issued; or
  • where the grounds for an exemption (or partial exemption) from land tax end.

Notification can be provided by emailing RevenueSA at landtaxreform@sa.gov.au.

Interest and penalty tax may apply if a trustee fails to notify RevenueSA within one month, on the additional amount of land tax that would have been assessed if the trustee had notified within the required one month period.

How could having a corporation as trustee impact land tax?

Corporations are considered to be related in certain circumstances.

Related corporations that own land are jointly assessed for land tax at the general land tax rates as if the land was owned by a single corporation.

View the related corporations page for more information.

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DISCRETIONARY TRUSTS

What is a discretionary trust?

In a discretionary trust the trustee has the discretion to nominate which beneficiary will benefit from the trust fund and the amount they will receive.

A trust established for the benefit of a family group is usually a discretionary trust.

How are discretionary trusts assessed for land tax?

Land held in a discretionary trust will be assessed at trust land tax rates.

However, if the land was acquired by the trust on or before midnight 16 October 2019 and the trustee chooses to nominate a beneficiary before 30 June 2021, the land will instead be assessed at the general land tax rates.

Land acquired by the discretionary trust on or before 16 October 2019

A discretionary trust has the option to nominate a designated beneficiary before 30 June 2021. Only one designated beneficiary can be nominated.

If you elect not to nominate a designated beneficiary, or if the notice of designated beneficiary is lodged after 30 June 2021, land will be assessed in the trust’s ownership at the trust land tax rates.

If a designated beneficiary is nominated by 30 June 2021:

  • land will be assessed in the trust’s ownership at general land tax rates; and
  • if the designated beneficiary owns other land, the land will be assessed in their ownership along with any other land they own. A deduction of the land tax assessed in the trust’s ownership will apply.

See the how is land tax assessed page for more details on how interests in land may be grouped together (or “aggregated”).

Land acquired by the discretionary trust after 16 October 2019

Land acquired by a discretionary trust after midnight 16 October 2019 will be assessed at the trust land tax rates. There is no exception to this, even if the trustee nominates a beneficiary for other land by the trust prior to midnight 16 October 2019.

NOMINATING THE DESIGNATED BENEFICIARY

Who can be nominated as the designated beneficiary?

For land tax, a designated beneficiary must:

  • be a natural person;
  • have been a beneficiary of the trust at midnight 16 October 2019;
  • be over 18 years of age at the date of nomination; and
  • verify by statutory declaration that they consent to being the designated beneficiary of the trust.

If all the beneficiaries of the trust are under 18 years old, the trustee can be the designated beneficiary if they are a natural person (that is, not a corporation).

How do I nominate the designated beneficiary?

The designated beneficiary must complete a Nomination and Acceptance as Beneficiary for a Discretionary Trust Statutory Declaration PDF, 205.95 KB which must be signed before and witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, a Commissioner for Taking Affidavits or a Notary Public.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in place, the South Australian Government has expanded the criteria for people to witness statutory declarations. This includes government employees, accountants, religious ministers, medical professionals and bank officers who meet the criteria.

View who can witness a statutory declaration.

You can email your Statutory Declaration to landtaxreform@sa.gov.au or post to GPO Box 1647, Adelaide, SA 5001.

How many designated beneficiaries can I nominate?

You can only nominate one designated beneficiary in relation to a discretionary trust.

Can I change a designated beneficiary?

You may substitute a designated beneficiary if the designated beneficiary dies or becomes incapacitated. You may also substitute a designated beneficiary if a marriage, de facto or domestic relationship breaks down irretrievably and the designated beneficiary will no longer be the beneficiary of the trust.

To substitute a designated beneficiary, the new designated beneficiary must complete a Nomination and Acceptance as Beneficiary for a Discretionary Trust Statutory Declaration and this needs to be lodged with RevenueSA via email to landtaxreform@sa.gov.au or post to GPO Box 1647, Adelaide, SA 5001. Please include details in your email of why the change has occurred.

The Statutory Declaration must be signed before and witnessed by an authorised person. View who can witness a statutory declaration.

What if I want to withdraw the nomination for a designated beneficiary?

Yes, you can withdraw the designated beneficiary at any time by emailing RevenueSA at landtaxreform@sa.gov.au.

If you withdraw the notice of the designated beneficiary (rather than substituting one beneficiary for another), you cannot lodge another notice later. The land will also become taxable at the trust land tax rates.

ASSESSMENT OF LAND TAX

If the trust holds more than one piece of land, how will it be aggregated?

Land owned for the same trust with the same trustee will be combined (aggregated) and land tax assessed on the combined site value.

How is land tax assessed where a Designated Beneficiary has been nominated?

No other land owned by the Designated Beneficiary

The land will be assessed in the trust’s ownership at the general land tax rates and a Land Tax Assessment will be issued to the trust. The designated beneficiary will receive no further assessment for the year.

Designated Beneficiary owns other land.

If the designated beneficiary owns other land, the land tax will be assessed in two stages:

Stage 1: The land will be firstly assessed in the trust’s ownership at the general land tax rates and a Land Tax assessment will be issued to the trust.
  
Stage 2:The land will then be combined with any other land owned by the designated beneficiary and assessed at the general land tax rates to calculate land tax payable. The Land Tax Assessment issued to the designated beneficiary will reflect a deduction of the land tax assessed on the land at step one.

See the how land tax is assessed page for more details.

Land owned jointly by trust and trustee

Where the land is owned jointly by the trust and the trustee, land tax will be assessed in two stages:

Stage 1: The land will be firstly assessed in the trust and trustee’s joint ownership at the general land tax rates and a Land Tax Assessment will be issued to the trust and trustee.
  
Stage 2(a): The share of the land held by the trust will then be combined with any other land owned by the designated beneficiary and assessed at the general land tax rates to calculate land tax payable. The Land Tax Assessment issued to the designated beneficiary will reflect a deduction of the trust's share of the land tax assessed on the land at step one.
  
Stage 2(b): The share of the land held by the trustee will then be combined with any other land owned by the trustee and assessed at the general land tax rates to calculate land tax payable. The Land Tax Assessment issued to the trustee will reflect a deduction of the trustee's share of the land tax assessed on the land at step one.

See the how land tax is assessed page for more details.

How is land tax assessed where a Designated Beneficiary has not been nominated?

Land owned under the same trust will be combined and land tax assessed on the combined site value at the trust land tax rates.

How is land tax assessed where a Designated Beneficiary has only been nominated for some of the land owned by the trust?

Where a trust owns land but has only nominated designated beneficiary for one or some of the land owned, the land tax will be calculated as follows:

Land tax assessed = [(R1 x T) x (A/T)] + [(R2 x T) x (B/T)]

Where:

  • R1 is the general rate of land tax
  • R2 is the trust rate of land tax
  • T is the total taxable value of all land subject to the trust
  • A is the total value of land where a Designated Beneficiary has been nominated
  • B is the total value of land where there has been no nomination of a Designated Beneficiary

EXEMPTIONS FROM LAND TAX

Can an exemption apply for a principal place of residence?

Designated Beneficiary nominated

An exemption, or part exemption, may apply to land is the home ('principal place of residence') of the designated beneficiary and all relevant criteria has been met.

The land must have been held by the discretionary trust as at 16 October 2019.

Designated Beneficiary not nominated

An exemption, or part exemption, may apply to land that is the home ('principal place of residence') of the trustee all relevant criteria has been met.

See the land tax exemption on your residential home page for more information on eligibility criteria and how to apply.

Can an exemption apply for primary production land?

An exemption may apply to land used for the business of primary production where all relevant criteria has been met.

See the land tax exemption where you use the land for primary production page for more information on eligibility criteria and how to apply.

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UNIT TRUSTS

What is a unit trust?

A unit trust allows a beneficiary to receive part of any profit or income that comes through the purchase, holding, maintaining or disposal of property held in the trust. Beneficiaries of this type of trust are generally called unitholders. They are entitled to profits, income or other trust funds in proportion to their unitholding.

A unit trust cannot be an excluded trust.

How are unit trusts assessed for land tax?

Land held in a unit trust will be assessed at the trust land tax rates.

However, if a unitholder(s) is nominated, the land will instead be assessed at the general land tax rates.

NOMINATION OF UNITHOLDERS

What happens if I nominate the unitholders?

If you nominate all the unitholders in the trust, the land owned by the trust may be assessed at the general land tax rates.

The share owned by unitholders may also be assessed with other land that they own.

See Assessment of Land Tax below

How do I nominate a unitholder(s)?

Please complete the land holding declaration and submit to landtaxreform@sa.gov.au along with supporting documentation.

What happens if I don’t nominate the unitholders?

If you do not nominate all the unitholders in the trust, the land owned by the trust will be assessed at the trust land tax rates.

When does the nomination take effect?

Recognition of unitholders can take effect from the financial year in which the nomination is received or the following financial year. Please ensure you advise RevenueSA which financial year you would like recognition of unitholders to take effect.

Can I change the unitholders?

You must notify RevenueSA within one month of any changes to unitholdings.

You can email details of the change to landtaxreform@sa.gov.au.

Penalties may apply if RevenueSA is not notified of a change within one month.

Can I withdraw the recognition of unitholders?

Yes, you can withdraw the recognition of unitholders at any time by emailing RevenueSA at landtaxreform@sa.gov.au

However, if you do this and do not substitute with new unitholders, you cannot nominate new unitholders in the future.

The land will also become taxable at the trust land tax rates.

ASSESSMENT OF LAND TAX

If the trust holds more than one piece of land, can it be aggregated?

Land owned under the same trust with the same trustee will be combined (aggregated) and land tax assessed on the combined site value.

How is land tax assessed where RevenueSA has been notified of unitholders?

No other land owned by a unitholder

The land will be assessed in the trust’s ownership at the general land tax rates and a Land Tax Assessment will be issued to the trust.

Unitholder owns other land.

If a unitholder owns other land, land will be assessed in two stages:

Stage 1: The land will be firstly assessed in the trust’s ownership at the general land tax rates and a Land Tax Assessment will be issued to the trust.
  
Stage 2: The unitholder’s share of the land held in trust will then be combined with any other land owned by the unitholder and assessed at the general land tax rates to calculate land tax payable. The Land Tax Assessment issued to the unitholder will reflect a deduction of the land tax assessed on the land at step one.

See the Assessment of land tax page for more details..

How is land tax assessed where RevenueSA has not been notified of unitholders?

If the unitholders have not been provided, land owned by the trust will be assessed at the trust land tax rates.

EXEMPTIONS FROM LAND TAX

Can an exemption apply for a principal place of residence?

Notification of unitholders submitted

An exemption, or part exemption, may apply to land that is the home ('principal place of residence') of all the unitholders all relevant criteria has been met.

Notification of unitholders not submitted

An exemption, or part exemption, may apply to land that is the home ('principal place of residence') of the trustee and all relevant criteria has been met.

See the land tax exemption on your residential home page for more information on eligibility criteria and how to apply.

Can an exemption apply for primary production land?

An exemption may apply to land used for the business of primary production where all relevant criteria has been met.

See the land tax exemption where you use the land for primary production page for more information on eligibility criteria and how to apply.

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FIXED TRUSTS

What is a fixed trust?

In this type of trust, the beneficiaries and their share of the trust are fixed. A fixed trust does not allow other beneficiaries to be added or removed or for the beneficiaries’ share or beneficiaries’ assets in the trust to be changed or reallocated.

A good example of a fixed trust is a trust for two siblings who are each entitled to 50% of the trust fund.

A fixed trust cannot be an excluded trust, a discretionary trust or a unit trust.

How are fixed trusts assessed for land tax?

Land held in a fixed trust will be assessed at the trust land tax rates.

However the trustee has the option to nominate all the beneficiaries of the trust and the land will be assessed at the general land tax rates.

NOTIFICATION OF BENEFICIARIES

What happens if I nominate the beneficiaries?

If you nominate all the beneficiaries of the fixed the trust, the land owned by the trust may be assessed at the general land tax rates.

The share owned by the beneficiaries may also be assessed with other land that they own.

See Assessment of Land Tax below

What happens if I don’t nominate the beneficiaries?

If you do not notify RevenueSA of all the beneficiaries under the fixed trust, the land owned by the trust will be assessed at the trust land tax rates.

How do I nominate a beneficiary(ies)?

Please complete the land holding declaration and submit to landtaxreform@sa.gov.au along with supporting documentation.

When does the nomination take effect?

Recognition of a beneficiary(ies) can take effect from the financial year in which notification is received or the following financial year. Please ensure you advise RevenueSA which financial year you would like recognition of the beneficiary(ies) to take effect.

Can I change the beneficiaries?

The trust must notify RevenueSA within one month of any changes to beneficiaries.

You can email details of the change to landtaxreform@sa.gov.au.

Can I withdraw the nomination of beneficiaries?

Yes, you can withdraw the recognition of beneficiaries at any time by emailing RevenueSA at landtaxreform@sa.gov.au

However, if you do this and do not substitute with new beneficiaries, you cannot nominate new beneficiaries in the future.

The land will also become taxable at the trust land tax rates.

ASSESSMENT OF LAND TAX

If the trust holds more than one piece of land can it be aggregated?

Land owned under the same trust with the same trustee will be combined (aggregated) and land tax assessed on the combined site value.

How is land tax assessed where beneficiaries have been nominated?

No other land owned by the beneficiary

The land will be assessed in the trust’s ownership at the general land tax rates and a Land Tax Assessment will be issued to the trust.

Beneficiary owns other land.

If a beneficiary owns other land, land will be assessed in two stages:

Stage 1: The land will be firstly assessed in the trust’s ownership at the general land tax rates and a Land Tax Assessment will be issued to the trust.
  
Stage 2: The beneficiary’s share of the land held in trust will then be combined with any other land owned by the beneficiary and assessed at the general land tax rates to calculate land tax payable. The Land Tax Assessment issued to the beneficiary will reflect a deduction of the land tax assessed on the land at step one.

See the Assessment of land tax page for more details.

How is land tax assessed where RevenueSA has not been notified of the beneficiaries?

If the beneficiaries have not been provided, land owned by the trust will be assessed at the trust land tax rates.

EXEMPTIONS FROM LAND TAX

Can an exemption apply for a principal place of residence?

Beneficiaries nominated

An exemption, or part exemption, may apply to land that is the home ('principal place of residence') of all the beneficiaries and all relevant criteria has been met.

Beneficiaries not nominated

An exemption, or part exemption, may apply to land that is the home ('principal place of residence') of trustee all relevant criteria has been met.

See the land tax exemption on your residential home page for more information on eligibility criteria and how to apply.

Can an exemption apply for primary production land?

An exemption may apply to land used for the business of primary production where all relevant criteria has been met.

See the land tax exemption where you use the land for primary production page for more information on eligibility criteria and how to apply.

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MORE INFORMATION

Guide to Legislation: Land Tax changes for Joint Owners, Land Held on Trust & Related Corporations